Thank you all for coming today. I am honored here to stand in front of you as the 17th coach in New York Giants history. I'd like to take the time now to thank the Mara family, the Tisch family and Jerry Reese for this opportunity and I'd also like to thank you for the way you conducted this search; very detailed, very organized and with class as always. Thank you.
There are some excited people back in Southwestern Pennsylvania. A lot of you have done your research, Homer City. My parents, Tim and Tina, I'd like to thank them, my sister, Jody, and my brother, Tim, as well as my in-laws, Dave and Renee. Thank you. I have my two children and my beautiful wife here with me. Could you stand up please? (laughs) My wife, Toni, my daughter, Larkin, seven, and my son, B.J., he's three. Wouldn't be here without them.
I've been very fortunate in my career there's been a lot of coaches, a lot of players, a lot of administrators that have taken interest in me and my career. I wouldn't be here without them and I am going to read you a list of names so bear with me there. Rick Foust, Rob Nymick, Jim Mill, the late Mark Hess, Scott Mossgrove, Paul Schager, Sal Sunseri, Walt Harris, Jim Haslett, Jack Henry, Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay Packer family, Joe Philbin, Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre, Donald Driver, Donald Lee, Jermichael Finley, Bob and Lynn LaMonte, Mark Schiefelbein, Matt Baldwin, excuse me, Eli Manning and the Giants locker room, Tom Coughlin and the New York Giant family and staff. Thank you.
It's been a privilege and an honor the last two years to serve under Tom. He's made a big impact in my life as a coach and as a person and his discipline, punctuality and success are obviously legendary. Thinking of a way to honor Tom, there are so many ways we can do it but I figure the best way would be when I first walked into the building he looked at me and said, ‘don't mess with the clock.' (laughs) When you look to the right here, we have our digital clocks they're all five minutes fast and we're going to stick with that, that's TC time, that's a part of Giants culture now.
My next message is to Giants fans, Giants fans everywhere. I realize that this fan base is tough, it's passionate and deserves a winner. This is the capital of the world and this is the football capital of the world and with that comes a certain amount of pressure, a pressure that I look forward to, our staff and our players will look forward too. This job is not for the faint of heart and I'm the right man for the job. I'm hardened, battle tested and I've been groomed for this opportunity by Super Bowl winning coaches, players and organizations. We're going to assemble a staff and a locker room that the fans can rally around. We're going to set our jaw and we're going to get to work.
The vision for this football team goes in to winning and putting that fifth Lombardi trophy in the case. That is our goal and that is the vision. To accomplish that four things need to take place, four elements. The first is strong leadership, the second is we need to surround that leadership with talented men and women of integrity, the third is a positive working environment needs to be created starting and maintaining with myself and it needs to inspire teaching, learning and accountability. The last pointâthe last element, excuse me, is comprehensive structure and function. We will have a value system in place. Football is a people business and it starts with relationships. Three value system, excuse me, three values what we will incorporate are respect, humility and dedication. Dedication, obsessed is a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated. We will be dedicated in our football.
Lastly is our team identity. What do we want our tape to look like? It's about the film. When you turn a film on, what do we look like on film? Our offense, our defense, our special teams must play as one and our identity will be sound, smart and tough - committed to discipline and poise. With that I'll open it up to questions.
Q: What's the challenge of being the head coach? What are the things that make the transition from assistant coach to head coach that you're really concerned about?
A: It's large-scale leadership. When you're coaching a position whether it's tight ends or quarterbacks, you're the head coach of that position room. When you broaden out and you have the opportunity to get in front of an offense, you're the head coach of the offense and now I have a chance to get my hands on the whole team and I look forward to it.
Q: One thing John Mara said was he wanted a coach that had something to prove. He said you had something to prove in the statement yesterday. What do you think you have to prove?
A: I hold myself to a very high standard, I'm my biggest critic. Every night, I take pride in being able to look in the mirror and know that I did my best to get the job done.
Q: You said you had a conversation with Tom Coughlin saying don't touch the clock. When did you have that conversation and what was the conversation about?
A: It was ‘don't mess with the clocks,' and there may have been an adjective or two in there (laughs). But it was great learning through Tom. Being five minutes ahead of schedule is very valuable.
Q: When was that?
A: Being five minutes ahead of schedule is very valuable.
Q: But when was that conversation?
A: When was it?
A: First day. First day.
Q: Have you talked to him since you agreed to take this job?
A: Yes, I just talked to him.
Q: And did he impart any particular wisdom on you?
A: Good luck.
Q: Ben when you first got here I remember you saying everybody is going to have a clean slate as far as players. Is that the same for coaches you're going to take as you go through the evaluation period?
A: Our theme moving forward this year is evolution, not revolution. We're going to have an opportunity to carry something over, some things we won't. We know more about each other now than we had when I got here and we're going to build off things we do well and work on fixing the things we don't do well.
Q: Ben it's usual for a coordinator to become a head coach but he does it at a different team. Is there a challenge you see going into the same locker room that you had been a coordinator and now you're the head coach? You're looked at differently maybe by other guys?
A: I think in any job it's important to set up boundaries, you want to build relationships, but I think it's important whether it's with the staff or in the locker room that I establish those healthy boundaries right away.
Q: Have you finished building your staff?
A: No. With this happening so quickly, the staff is very fluid at this point and we had a chance to talk to a bunch of different guys, but nothing is set in stone. There's nothing to report at this time.
Q: Will Steve Spagnuolo be back?
A: The discussions are fluid and ongoing. There's nothing I want to report. When we have something definite, we will report.
Q: Will you continue to call the plays, Ben?
A: It goes back to the question about the staff. When our staff is complete and we feel comfortable releasing that, we'll talk more about it. I feel that's a competitive advantage for the opponent so that's not something we need to necessarily talk about.
Q: Aaron Rodgers praised you for keeping things fresh and challenging him. As you expand that role and, like you said, build boundaries from focus of quarterback to coordinator now head coach, how important is keeping things fresh and new message become?
A: I think it's always good to shake things up, especially from a scheduling perspective. Not always having the same schedule, changing whether it's each quarter of the season or each week in the offseason, but we're going to do some things to shake it up and keep it fresh. But at the same point and time, the fundamentals are called fundamentals for a reason, they're the foundation and we're not going to waiver there. We're going to keep pounding those home.
Q: How would it feel to have a trusted confidant like Joe Philbin back with you? You guys won a Super Bowl together so how's it going to feel to be reunited here in New York?
A: How's it going to feel to have...
Q: To be reunited?
A: He's coming?
Q: Assistant head coach?
A: Joe Philbin I think the world of. I think he's a talented man, talented coach, one of the best I've been around, think the world of him, but, like I said, the staff is fluid and there's nothing to report at this time.
Q: When you talk about fixing the locker room and what went wrong, how important is it to you to understand why this team in the final minutes of games last season failed so often?
A: We're going to go back and a big part of what we're going to do here coming up and moving forward is taking a look back at last season, studying each game and going back and studying each situation, taking a look at what we can do better in all three phases to fix the problem. And once we do fix the problem, we'll address it in the practice schedule, we'll practice those situations and we'll take that rearview mirror we'll rip it off, throw it in the back seat and look out the windshield.
Q: How important is it to you, if you at all, make changes to this staff so it's not the same environment or is that a concern to you at all or is that something you don't particularly worry about?
A: Like I said, we're right now evolution not revolution. There are a lot of good coaches around the league and we're going to sit down and talk to some different people and not rush into anything and take our time.
Q: Obviously you had a good look at the roster these last two years and you know the record. Now that you take over, do you have a sense of how long you think it will be for this team can get back to being that championship contender again?
A: We're not looking to rebuild, we're looking to reload and we're going to start in a couple of minutes.
Q: Having been the offensive coordinator the last two years, you've been with Eli, how does that help your transition to being the offensive coordinator to now head coach?
A: Anytime you have an opportunity to work at a great organization like the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers and work with great players like Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers and sit in the same room as Brett Favre, it's an opportunity to learn and grow and you really see what it's supposed to look like and feel what it's supposed to feel like. When you have your chance, when you have your opportunity, you need to jump in with both feet and make it happen.
Q: What did it mean to you that Eli was so vocal about wanting you to stay here?
A: I haven't really sat down and thought about it. I respect Eli's opinion. I'm appreciative of the endorsement.
Q: Was there a point in this process you thought you might be the new Eagles head coach?
A: Did I think I would be the new Eagles head coach? I'm very happy to be a New York Giant. This is home for me and my family and we look forward to the challenge here.
Q: You moved around a lot in your career. How important was to this whole process that you're going to stay here now for a while?
A: Before Green Bay I had eight jobs in six years bouncing around quite a bit. Being here for two now and having a chance to put down roots and establish some success and build a winner, like we said, it's all about putting the fifth trophy in the case. We want to put that fifth Lombardi trophy in the case that's what we're working for and that's just as important as anything.
Q: You say you've been groomed for this and you talk about how the program in Green Bay prepared you to be a play caller. What kind of things specifically do they do there that groom someone to be a head coach?
A: I think it's the openness and the dialog with which business is conducted whether it's the quarterbacks coach to the coordinator to the head coach to the quarterback and all being a part of the process there in front of the process of scheduling and doing the research and you put your time and effort in there. We've gone through some things here the last couple years and we've made some progress and I'm excited about the future, I'm excited about the changes we made last year and some of the scheduling changes that will be done and taking those a step further and moving forward.
Q: This is your first head coaching job. Was there one piece of advice you received along the way from someone that sticks with you?
A: Keep the main thing the main thing and that's the football.
Q: Who told you that?
A: I'm going to keep that in wraps.
Q: Being the head coach is one thing, becoming the head coach of football Giants, it has a ring to it and it comes with pressure. How do you expect to embrace that pressure?
A: I like the pressure. This is what you live for. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. It's the capital of the world, it's the football capital of the world. What could be better than this type of opportunity and this type of pressure? You prepare for it and I've been a guy that's always been baptized by fire and I'm comfortable with it.
Q: It was only 14 years ago that you were an assistant coach at high school. Have you thought at all about how, I mean it's kind of a quick rise to the ranks from starting at a pretty low spot, have you had a chance to think back on that journey about how quickly it's gone?
A: You don't have time to reflect quite like that. You know what, I probably lived some dog years, for a while. I thought people were trying to kill me in some of the jobs I've had, but all it does is make you stronger, you get to learn a lot more and it's been an interesting journey.
Q: Does this feel at all like a quick rise?
A: No. I think it took too long.
Q: How much saying are you going to have on personnel?
A: No, Jerry and the personnel side will do personnel. I'll coach the team that's my responsibility. We'll have open dialog back and forth and we'll communicate on what we feel our needs are and how we can get better and improve, but at the end of the day it's about the coaches and the personnel and the locker room all pulling in the same direction. We all have to be in this thing together.
Q: When you came in a couple years ago, Tom and Eli were both talking about learning from you, learning your offense, even Tom said he had to learn and he felt uncomfortable but it was good. Do you think that helped your credibility in here that people who were already established here were looking to you to teach them things, teach them something new?
A: I've been very fortunate that going from New Orleans to San Francisco I was one of the few guys on the staff that had to teach a new offense to some older, grizzly vet coaches and I had to do the same thing in Green Bay. Coming here I felt comfortable doing it. Being the third time going through it helped me and it worked out fairly well, not as well as we would've liked. We felt we could've carried things a little bit better this year than we did, but you live and you learn and new opportunities come along.
Q: This franchise has had a history of great defense. What's the challenge there to get back to it?
A: It goes back to our identity and what we want our film to look like and the way we want to train our guys and it goes to fundamentals. The first part of the identity that we talked about, we have to be sound fundamentally and we have to be smart and we talk about being smart, the best players are always the smartest players. They always have been, always will be and that's the responsibility of the player and head coach to be in position to be successful. So that's a good place to start for our identity.
Q: One of the main themes the last few years has been injuries. Do you have any theories about why those numbers have been so high and do you have any plans?
A: That's something we're going to dive into that here shortly. That's a part of a lot of the things that we're talking about right here. We're going to take a look at everything and examine it, not rush into any decisions, be smart about it, but that's something that we're looking into.
Q: Have you had any discussions with Coach Spagnuolo for the progression of this defense?
A: Spags and I have had some conversations and, again, the staff is fluid at this point, but we did have some conversations on some things and being the second year in the system is going to help some guys. It's going to help them with the foundation being set, it will let them play faster, they'll be able to anticipate things and install. Again, we want to chase that identity and be fundamentally sound and smart, tough and committed to discipline and poise and when you can put those things together and it shows up on the film and we play complimentary football, not all the defense, offense, the defense and the special teams need to play as one and that's my responsibility.
Q: You're following a coach that was here for 12 years and won two Super Bowls, what is the challenge with if there's a shadow or differentiating yourself and making it your own, especially following someone like Tom?
A: The most important thing when we talk about leadership is you got to be yourself. Everybody else is already taken, including Tom, so I can't worry about being in Tom's shadow, I got to be comfortable in my own skin and I am that.
Q: How do you view yourself being different than him in your estimation?
A: I'm just going to be myself, I'm not going to worry about it.
Q: You are the second youngest coach in the league right now. You mentioned several times you feel ready, you said before it took too long to get here, but I would imagine, can you understand that some Giants fans are looking and saying, the guy is 38 years old, he's a young coach, there's no proof?
A: Yeah, I understand that completely and the fans look at a lot of things through a critical lens and it's my job to get the staff and the players and get them rallied around each other, put good product on the field, and until we play that first Sunday of the season, they have the right to look at everything through a critical eye. Follow what your film looks like.
Q: Over the past 10 days in radio interviews John Mara has mentioned he wasn't comfortable with the sideline how it reacted during the Panthers game with Odell. I'm just wondering did you address that with him during your interview and would you look at the situation as a head coach and handle it differently than it was handled?
A: Football is a people business and it's about relationships. After what happened on the sideline in Carolina game, I should've been better and I take full responsibility for that. Odell feels as bad as anybody about it and it's my job to pull him out of that when we go down that road.
Q: Do you have a time table for when your staff becomes not fluid and is real?
A: No. We don't want to rush into anything and things have happened quickly over the last couple of days so we're just in the beginning stages of it right now. When we know, you'll know.
Q: You've spoken a lot about your journey in coaching and getting to a certain point. When you started this during this journey, did you have a destination in mind?
A: The way I was brought up in this business is you keep your head down and you keep working and that's what I've done and that's what I will continue to do. I just make myself available to the whole team.
Q: The draft is over 100 days away and you mentioned you're going to let Jerry handle these type of things, but how much of a role will you play in those proceedings?
A: We'll support Jerry any way we can. We want to get the coaches and personnel department pulling in the same direction and do whatever we can to help evaluate a guy and move in that direction.
Q: Being with this team for a couple years now, is there any position that you're focusing on?
A: Well it goes back to we're just ready to go down that road. We'll start that here tomorrow and start the process of evaluation and cut-ups and looking at personnel. Personnel side already has, they're knee-deep into the study at this point, but the coaching staff needs to start with the comb and begin that way.